Thrift stores are interesting places. Not only can you shop for great deals there, you can learn a lot about our relationship with stuff. As a person who makes a living helping people get rid of the excess, I find it fascinating to see what ends up being sold in thrift stores for a fraction of the original price. On a recent trip to Goodwill I took note of the following lessons we can all learn to become more savvy shoppers.
1. Invest in things that have more than one use - Thrift stores are filled with things that serve only one purpose: panini makers, chocolate fountains, towel warmers, and specialty cake pans. Before purchasing one of these things ask yourself how many times you will actually make a NASCAR cake? If it's only once, maybe adding decoration to a simple round cake is the better option than this car-shaped pan.
2. Don't give gifts that become clutter - We love to give novelty gifts but think about what happens to the ones you receive. You often feel guilty about getting rid of them but they serve no purpose after the initial laugh. Be a responsible gift-giver and select consumables or experiences for your loved ones. If we all make this a priority we will help each other reduce our household clutter!
3. Consider your lifestyle - Do you set a table regularly with matching dishes? Do you use all the different sized wine and cocktail glasses? If not, maybe you don't need to purchase an entire set. I also spotted lots of heavy stoneware dishes and formal sets with gold or platinum edging, neither of which are very practical. Think about your cabinet space and how easy it will be to wash and maintain anything before you buy.
4. Pay more for quality - I found rows upon rows of cheap plastic items in every section of the thrift store. These things are inexpensive and easy to discard after one or two uses. We can be better stewards of the earth by avoiding these purchases and instead paying a bit more for quality items that we can use for years to come. Wouldn't you rather have a single beautiful serving tray instead of a cabinet full of these?
5. Don't buy stuff that is designed to be clutter - The final, and possibly most important lesson to be learned from the thrift store, is to avoid buying things that are designed to be clutter! Before you purchase a decorative item, think about how much you love it, how long you think you will enjoy looking at it, and where it will be displayed in your home. There are many canister sets and cookie jars in the thrift store because they take up valuable counter space in the kitchen. If you don't have a spot to put it, don't put it in your cart.
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Make it fab!